Shelton School District

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Tips for Talking to your kids after a crisis

  • We all want our students to be and feel safe! After a critical incident or death, parents may want to talk to their children about what happened. How children react will depend on the relationship they had with the person who died, their age, and their prior experience with death. If they want to talk, listen, answer their questions simply, honestly, and be prepared to answer the same questions repeatedly. Here are some more tips for talking to your child about fears and concerns.

    Please do not hesitate to call your school counselor if you feel your child is exhibiting an extreme reaction to this loss.  Some signs to watch for, as your student may: 
    • Appear unaffected
    • Ask questions about the death repeatedly
    • Be angry or aggressive
    • Be withdrawn or moody
    • Be sad or depressed
    • Become afraid
    • Have difficulty sleeping or eating

    In addition, there are services available through Providence Grief and Loss Program. The Sound Care Kids Grief Support groups give children 5-18 years of age and their parents an opportunity grieve the death of a loved one; share feelings, hopes, and fears in creative, experiential ways with others who understand; communicate more openly and naturally about death, and learn coping skills for adjusting to difficult changes. 

Tips for talking to your child

    1. First and foremost — listen to the student. Children need to vent, to express all of their concerns, fears, outrage, anger, and upset. They’re not looking for answers or judgment, only for someone to listen to them. Be that person.
    2. After the child has spent some time talking about their fears and concerns, reassure them of their safety — that the entire family and school are now focused on keeping them safe and secure.
    3. When discussing the events with younger children, the amount of information shared should be limited to some basic facts. Use words meaningful to them (not words like “bomber”, etc.). Do not go into specific details with young children, because it will often be scarier and less understood.
    4. Children who have been involved in an incident like this will often ask, “Can this happen to me? Can this happen here?” Do not lie. Reiterate how the family and school are focused on working to keep everyone safe in the school.
    5. Remain thoughtful of how much media the child is exposed to. Use caution in permitting young children to watch the news on the TV or the internet. It is too difficult for most young children to process these images. Personal discussions are the best way to share information with this children. Also, plan to discuss this many times over the coming weeks.
    6. Do not let the child focus on graphic details. Rather, elicit their feelings and concerns and focus your discussions on what they share with you. Guide them through their discussion of the incident and answer their questions truthfully.
    7. Reassure them of their safety and your efforts to protect them, kids must hear this message.
    8. Be on the lookout for physical symptoms of anxiety that children may demonstrate. They may be a sign that a child, although not directly discussing the situation, is very troubled by recent events. Talk more directly to children who exhibit these signs more frequently than usual:
      • Headaches
      • Excessive worry
      • Stomach aches
      • Increased arguing
      • Backaches
      • Irritability
      • Trouble sleeping or eating
      • Loss of concentration
      • Nightmares
      • Withdrawal
      • Refusal to go to school
      • Clinging behavior
    1. If you are concerned about your child and their reaction to this or any incident, talk directly with their school counselor, family doctor, community mental health professional or the Crisis Clinic (360) 586-2800.
    2. Reassure your child that they will be protected and kept safe. During events like these, words expressing safety and reassurance with concrete plans should be discussed and agreed upon within the family to provide the most comfort to children. 


​​The Shelton School District does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following employee has been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination: Linda Arnold, Director of Human Resources. 360-426-1687. 700 S. 1st Street; Shelton, WA 98584. Complaint procedure can be found on this website under Board Policy #3210 (students) and #5010 (employees).